The desire for smaller, thinner and simpler items infiltrates our daily life, and the impact of this trend is carrying over into areas that most consumers don’t think about or even notice; this includes food displays.
What were once highly-decorative pieces of equipment placed as a piece of furniture to draw consumers’ attention are now cleaner, simpler displays integrated into the environment to blend and disappear. When the display fixture isn’t noticeable, the food stands out. And food that is noticeable sells, which is the goal with these units.
The way food is prepared and presented is more stunning than ever before, and consumers are increasingly savvy about what they want. There are more food choices to select from, so the way food is displayed plays a major role in attracting attention and stimulating the desire to buy. We buy with our eyes, so it makes sense that seeing the food, not the equipment, should be high priority when deciding on the type of displays to use.
New technologies in glass, lighting and refrigeration are allowing manufacturers to invent creative approaches to food displays. Clean lines and sharp edges without frames keep sight lines wide open and the emphasis on the fresh food. Keeping heavy, bulky hardware to a minimum provides a minimalist design that integrates seamlessly with the environment.
As a result, it is what you don’t see that makes a difference.
Chris Buscetta, kitchen designer at Washington, D.C.-based architecture firm HapstakDemetriou+, works closely with architects in foodservice design who are looking to control finishes and details around food display cases.
“Operators are putting these units in the front of house in very visible locations,” he said. “Much of the direction in hiding cases is about designing units with a more finished look so these don’t appear to be kitchen equipment in a finished space.”
Today’s cases retain the refrigeration function, while blending aesthetics into retail designs, which provides an appealing backdrop for the food that’s on display.
“These display cases better accommodate different finishes and hide refrigeration,” said Buscetta. “This helps the units coordinate better with their surroundings, bringing more attention to the food inside.”
Air flow is another consideration, as the method in which the equipment breathes impacts its appearance.
“Manufacturers also are changing the air grills on the front or the way they are shaped to be more visually appealing,” said Buscetta. “Because the design is less distracting and seamless, the food is taking center stage.”
In addition, the modernization of the designs has been beneficial.
“Manufacturers are integrating more European aspects to these cases,” he said, adding that it’s the quick-service restaurants, in particular, that are helping drive display case design changes.